I’m not certain where the concept of “turnaround time” was born. But I’m sure it was during a time of calm and manageable demand because the notion of turnaround time ignores fluctuations in demand. What’s the turnaround time on the new ride at the theme park? What’s the turnaround time on getting a table at the hot new popular restaurant? What’s the turnaround time on a PSA Express order? The answers to these questions are the same: It depends on the demand.
Defining Turnaround Times
Turnaround times are projections. They’re estimates. Dare I say…guesses. An attempt at predicting something in the future. When the seas are calm, and demand is steady, it’s very possible. Your dry cleaning will be ready on Thursday. Simple. But what if all of a sudden and without warning, everyone pulled every piece of clothing out of the closet and brought it to your dry cleaner? You’re not all getting your items back on Thursday. Projecting the future is difficult when demand climbs to unexpected heights.
Demand for PSA’s grading and authentication services are through the roof. Despite price increases in October, submission volume increased 21% from November to December, another 48% from December to January, and February surpassed January levels. PSA has added 167 new employees in the past 70 days, but our capacity growth cannot keep pace with the growth in submission volume. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to provide accurate turnaround times when submission volume outpaces completion volume, and when the market response to an increase in price is an increase in demand.
As we learned in 2020, with a fast-moving and fast-expanding industry like the trading card market, trying to project the future is futile. But a fast-moving market doesn’t need crystal balls; it needs facts, data and metrics. Real information to make real decisions on your best options in a fast-moving market. As PSA continues to expand capacity, we must also continue to advance our approach to communicating order processing times and customer expectation management.
Unveiling Complete Through Dates
The Complete Through Date (CTD) is the day before the date of the oldest open order in the PSA system for that service level. In other words, if the oldest Express order processed was entered into the PSA system on January 15, then the current Complete Through Date for the Express level service would be January 14. CTDs are everything turnaround times are not. They are data-driven, transparent, dynamic, and easy to understand. CTDs manage expectations, provide real order completion progress, and also give you the transparency you need to make the most of the options and opportunities in today’s marketplace.
If you’re looking for an update on an open order, you can use CTDs to check the progress by comparing the “Entered” date on your My Orders page to the service level’s Complete Through Date to get an idea as to the remaining time before your order will be completed. Posted CTDs update daily and you can follow along as the CTD advances closer to your order’s Entered date. And if you’re considering a submission, CTDs can help guide your decision by providing the facts you need to make an educated decision on what to expect and what’s best.
As PSA continues to work tirelessly through the backlog, improvements in communication are as important as capacity growth. We hope you’ll find CTDs to be a major upgrade in the way we communicate order processing progress.